December 29, 2011

Drawing wind or air movement is generally subtle.  It's hard to be subtle using a black calligraphy marker.  I had intended the blue of the sky to be more of a threatening grey, but it didn't quite get there.  

December 27, 2011

Early Autumn

I love watercolour!  It's just fun.  
Anyway, I photographed this instead of scanning, because it's easier.  I am having a problem with the Window Live Photo Gallery.  Every time I do any editing at all, even just flipping a picture around, the photo gets lost.  Phffffft gone!  It says it's saving it, but it's just gone!  This happens with scans and with pics imported from my camera.  Very frustrating.

December 24, 2011

my song

Today I wrote a song. It is a Christmas song. Enjoy!

our gift

Christmas is a special time!
It's not the presents.
It's Jesus!
He was born on Christmas day!
that's how GOD showed his love!
we can show our love by giving presents!
When you give a present to a child of GOD,
It's like giving a gift to GOD!

December 23, 2011

Paisley Goldfinch

This is watercolour on 90lb paper.  I'll have to find a way to flatten it.  I started with the idea of the Paisley bird (although I don't think it's technically paisley), and then incorporated some of the doodle techniques I've seen around the internet.  I see some things I'd do differently next time, but for a first time experiment, I think it worked out rather well.  I'm learning a lot about how my paints move on the paper(and how my watercolour pencils don't). 
 Paul said "That's ... unique.  I like the clouds." (and some other diplomatic stuff)
 
Now... how should I frame it?  

December 22, 2011

There's something about this season...

When the air gets cold and the sun takes the shortcut across the sky, I get creative urges.  Unfortunately, it's different every year.  I've been going to our local art club, so I've learned about a lot of different techniques.  The last little while I've been doing sketching, doodling and watercolour paints.  I've been inspired by miraculousmosquito.blogspot.com .  I really appreciate her videos.   I scanned a few of my recent efforts.
A mandala drawn with calligraphy marker and coloured with watercolour paints.

Vines & clouds doodled with Madeline's coloured pens

Madeline's coloured pens are great!  Unfortunately the red and black ones are missing.

Paisley, calligraphy marker & watercolour

November 27, 2011

1st day of school

To my Mom...  I vaguely remember saying I'd post some 1st day of school pics.  So here you go.

Origami

I have been fascinated by origami for a long time.  Recently Madeline & I found a pretty cool video that showed us how to make this.

 and a website that showed how to make these.
The flower ball is made up of 12 flowers.  Each flower is made of 5 pieces of construction paper.  I think technically this isn't origami, since it is held together by tape and staples.  But anyway, I think it took about 4 hours.  Madeline worked on it with me until bedtime and then I finished.  The 16 pt star is made of 16 squares (2.75") left over from  cutting the squares for the flower ball and other origami experiments.  I've found that wrapping paper actually makes pretty decent folding paper for me, though it tears too easily for Madeline to use.  So, I might make a few tree ornaments from paper left over from wrapping presents.  

September 16, 2011

It's been a while

Between getting into a school routine and planning for Awana, I haven't been keeping up with blogging.  I'll be back it soon.
And to tide you over, here's Gideon heading straight for the "Starship Enterprise" at the Zoo near Port Colborne.

August 5, 2011

Taco Soup

2 cups cooked black beans
1 can corn
1 lb ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pouch taco seasoning
1/2 cup salsa (optional)
1/4 cup onion diced
1/4 cup bell pepper diced
shredded cheddar

Brown the beef with onions and peppers.  Drain excess fat.  Add corn, beans and tomatoes (use the liquid in the cans).  Add enough water to make soup.  Stir in taco seasoning and salsa according to how spicy you like it.  Simmer for at least 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Just before serving, add shredded cheese.  Serve with tortilla chips, sour cream and more cheese.
Makes about 6 servings

August 3, 2011

So, our van was not packed full.  I used the same method as our trip to BC.  It works well for us.  I did get to do laundry, and we came home with more clean clothes than dirty clothes (not counting swimwear and towels).  We even managed to add two small tables on the way home.

July 22, 2011

Packing for the Journey

Well, the road trip to Ontario anyway.
When we drove to BC in spring, I was faced with packing clothes for 4 people for 10 days(9 nights), including a wedding.  The solution I came up with was this...
I designated one suitcase for toiletries.  One for 'on the road stops', one for the 2 night stay with my brother and sister in law (thank you for having us) in Vancouver, and one for the 3 night stay in Langley (thanks Atchisons!) where the wedding was.  And by suitcase, I mean the rolling ones that can be carried on a plane.
This worked pretty well for us, because then we didn't have to bring in one case for everyone every time we stopped for night.  The kids each had a bag for books and toys that they were supposed to keep track of - and mostly they stayed in the van.  We did do laundry somewhere I think.  So I actually had at least one suitcase of clean clothes when we got home.
This trip is a couple of days longer and has the added complications of including a wedding, a big birthday bash, and camping.
I'm planning on using the same general idea, just adding another piece of luggage for clothes.  I'm pretty sure I don't have enough clothing to last 2 weeks without doing laundry, so I hope I'll have the opportunity to do that. Then the camping gear will go in as well.  We bought a big tent, but I managed to pack it back into the bag it came in without too much trouble.  Now I just need to decide whether the weather will warrant a warm sleeping bag.
I make lists.  Lots of lists.  I don't always check them off, but just making the lists helps to organize my brain.  So, in this case.  I will check things off, so that when Paul wants to pack something or know where something has been packed, he can look at the lists.  I often start making lists a week or two in advance.  As the list gets bigger, I rewrite it several times, in different orders and formats, which helps me remember items that we'll need.
I'll take a picture once we have the van packed up.

July 20, 2011

So ... Here's my problem

I have a beautiful 7 year old daughter.  She is cheerful and kind and mostly obedient, she has long legs, and sharp elbows, and sparkly brown eyes.  I would like to dress her in nice clothing that doesn't cost too much, that doesn't advertise for major corporations or pop stars, and doesn't display her body in ways that are inappropriate.    So, since she has outgrown many of her clothes, I go shopping.  Our nearest town has 2? stores that sell clothing for girls her size.  Walmart & Superstore.  I have scoured the racks.  The most modest stuff usually has a large picture of Justin Beiber on it.  I am not the most conservative of women.  I wear shorts on occasion and pants at home most of the time.  I  have issues with women who wear skirts that are shorter than my shorts.  I don't want my active little girl to wear such short skirts.  As a toddler and preschooler, there were slightly more options, now as a size 7?!?  I get angry every time I shop for clothes for her.  At Christmas, she needed a plain, black shirt.  Nothing(except the one with JB on the front - why do 6yo girls know who he is? and why would parents want them to wear shirts that say "Future Mrs. Bieber" on them?).  By the way if you know where I live and think  that I have missed a store, please, please let me know so that I can try there.

I have, on occasion, done some sewing.  We'll just say I didn't make any heirlooms.

I think, in our area at least, there could be a market for pretty and practical clothes for girls.  Not just denim skirts, or fancy dresses.  Modest bathing suits, shorts and shirts, every day skirts and dresses, pants, that aren't low rise or skin tight.  So, anyone with money, time, energy, talent ... go for it.  I'll be there.

July 19, 2011

M's glasses


My glasses are pink and purple. I have a White hankie too. I like my glasses so much

July 18, 2011

Pantry

Hey, I know there are lots of pantry posts out there, but I was cleaning out mine and thought I'd share.  Lots of pictures here - I decided against posting the video.  If you feel you can't live with out seeing video of my pantry just leave a comment and I'll send you a free dvd of the riveting footage.
food

more food

Top Shelf - stuff that is rarely used

rice, pasta, cornmeal, beans, barley and noodles
nice and tidy on the shelf

Our cereal shelf 9 different kinds


Baking supplies take up two shelves


Miscellaneous stuff on two more shelves  -
 the drink mixes are above the baking shelf
I think I counted 12 peanut butter containers that I have filled with something else (and one waiting to be washed).  We use a lot of peanut butter and these 1 kg containers make good canisters.  Here is where we keep our peanut butter.  Above the toaster - we have the simple sandwich makings, and quick oats, sugar & salt.
Breakfast centre

July 15, 2011

I had very little to do with these cuties


Madeline's cat, Ring, had kittens are few weeks ago and Paul finally found them (in a hole under the barn floor)  There are 5.  The top picture is the largest and looks like one of the cats that was here when we moved in.  The bottom picture is the smallest and he has his father's colouring.  Now we just need to find the kittens that Thumpbump (Gideon's cat) had on Sunday.

July 14, 2011

My baby is 5!

We had a couple of the neighbour boys over for cake this evening.  Gideon is a purist when it comes to cake.  It must be chocolate and either have chocolate icing or no icing at all.  So that makes for some simple cake decorating.  I made a small cake, 5 star cupcakes and 20ish cakepops.  Gideon was thrilled with it.

July 13, 2011

Mmmmmm Brownies!

So, my favourite dessert since childhood, is these brownies from the Mennonite Treasury cookbook.
1/2 cup butter melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
vanilla
3 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1/2 tsp baking powder
Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl.  Mix the dry ingredients together.  Add the dry to the wet.  Pour into 8x8 pan (don't bother greasing it unless you skimp on the butter).  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F.
In this case I tripled the recipe and used bigger pan

  I usually double the recipe and bake it a little longer.  Sometimes I go easy on the sugar and butter, it doesn't affect the taste too much and it's less greasy.  I've even forgotten it in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes longer and it gets a little hard around the edges, but doesn't burn. Some people put icing on it, but I never do.  It's quite fudgy and rich all on its own.

July 11, 2011


I'm thinking I planned this fairly well.  One plant is winding down and another takes the stage.  At least until the frost comes.  I'll have to get in there this fall or next to divide the larger perennials.  I'm pretty nervous about that, maybe I'll take out some of the daylilies (which get massive really fast) and irises (which die in the centre), and add something for fall.  I'm not sure what though.  Then maybe something structural or evergreen for winter?  I don't know about that though, most of the snow we shovel away from the door goes on top of this.

July 8, 2011

Before - summer  spring 2006
After - summer 2011

July 7, 2011

Butter is Better

Yesterday, my neighbour brought us some cream that she'd separated from her raw milk.  Today, we made butter and buttermilk.  The kids love to do this.  They also love buttermilk, and they say the butter is waaaay better than the stuff we buy in the store (of course we usually buy margarine, so what do they know).  Anyway, about 1 cup of cream, made 1/2 c butter and 1/2 cup buttermilk.  We did salt our butter when it was done.  There was some disagreement about that, but after tasting the plain butter, we agreed that we preferred salted.  It took about 5 minutes of shaking and then 10-15 minutes to drain the buttermilk completely out and rinse the butter and then salt it.  That's with the kids "helping".

July 6, 2011

Just so you know...

I really enjoyed the salad that I made the mayo for.  No one else did ... but they ate it anyway.

July 5, 2011

So, what do you do when you need mayonnaise for a recipe, but don't have any?  Well, if you've got time and the internet, you learn how to make mayo.  Of course, I didn't have all the ingredients in any one recipe for mayo so I had to mix and match with the recipes - guess what a particular ingredient is supposed to do and then try to find something that will fill that need.  Which meant I looked for egg free recipes and saw they use xantham gum (who has xanthum in their kitchen?)  So I added a touch of cornstarch - not sure if it will work, but I'm ok with a thinner mayo in this case, because I needed the mayo for a salad dressing.  Now, I've gotta say... cooking bacon right before lunch is not good, when said bacon is for supper and I don't have any extra.  There really is no good substitute for bacon.

July 4, 2011

Well, another Monday cleaning.  It took 2.5hrs today.  Of course the kids did their own rooms mostly and then they helped with the rec room.  I think this strategy is working for us.  The kids aren't as overwhelmed (neither am I) by the cleaning, so they do more daily tidying, and I can get right to the actual cleaning without having to pick up a lot of stuff before hand.  I guess technically I'm not done yet.  The sheets and blankets are still in the dryer. I'll have to check on that.

July 1, 2011

The shrub is spirea, I think.  The columbine is still going strong.

I'm really happy with how this corner turned out.  I'll have to find a before picture.

Standing in the doorway, looking south east.

June 29, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate cookies.  Over the years, I've tried a lot of recipes.  This is the one I do most often now.  It was inspired by that Neiman Marcus recipe that went around on email a while back, but I tweaked it to make it healthier and easier.  So now I call it my recipe.  It makes about 5 dozen cookies that are slightly crispy, but not crunchy.
1/2 cup margarine - softened, not melted
1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract (I use the cheap stuff, so if you use real extract you might want to cut back.
1 1/2cup oatmeal - blend it into powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips (I prefer not to use milk chocolate)

Cream the margarine, oil and sugars until smooth.  Beat in eggs and vanilla well.  In a large measuring cup, lightly mix the oatmeal and flour with the soda, powder and salt.  Dump the flour mixture into the sugar mixture and mix.  Add chocolate chips and mix again.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  I use a small scoop and put them on a greased pan about a cookie width apart.  If you are using a nonstick pan, bake for 9 minutes.  Add 1 minute if you use the other kind.  Let them cool for a couple minutes on the pan before moving to a cooking rack.  Enjoy.

June 27, 2011

So, it's Monday.  I cleaned like crazy for about 3 1/2 hours.  Today, I skipped Madeline's room (I think I'll help her do that later), but I did get the rec room done.  It seemed that, except for Madeline's room(how does she get so much stuff on the floor when she's only in there at night?), the house just didn't take as long to clean.  Of course, I do basic stuff during the week, but it's easier to tidy up, when the mess is one thing instead of a whole room.  So, I'll bake something this week and maybe actually crochet something this week.  That said - Paul was gone for the last three days ...
We'll have to see how it works next week, when he will be home for a long weekend.  And then we'll have to see how it works the week after that, because school will be out and Madeline will be home during the day.  I can just make them all sit in the corner and not touch anything right?  No, I guess that wouldn't be living would it.  I'd rather have a messy house than kids who don't play.
Peony beside the door.
I don't remember where we got this particular peony.  Probably a clearance sale at Canadian Tire.  The red lily is from the ones we grew in Morden (which were from a clearance sale at True Value).  I'm glad the rain on Wednesday didn't batter them into the ground.
Lily behind the peony.

June 24, 2011

My New Strategy

No, not really.
     I'm not what anyone would call neat.  On some days in the not so distant past, one might even call me a slob.  I have, in the past, followed along with Flylady (which worked for me when I had a baby), and consulted numerous books, blogs, magazines and websites on the subjects of cleaning, decluttering and organizing.  I have spent hours planning and scheduling.  I think it is safe to say, I spent more time reading about cleaning than actually cleaning.  That is not to say, I haven't made some progress.  I do wash clothes regularly(daily in fact) and I rarely leave the wet clothes in the washer more than a couple of hours (anymore).  I even put said clean clothes away occasionally.  Mostly, I would say the laundry situation is working out okay.  It's the rest of the house... well, lets just say that I regularly get comments from the neighbourhood kids about how messy the house is and recently I heard one darling child say "does your mom clean?"
So this is where my new strategy comes in.  I started on 20th.  I spent the entire day (well, ok maybe only 5 hours) cleaning.  I planned it out on Saturday night.  Every 15 minute block from the time I put Madeline on the bus for school was filled with some cleaning to be done.  I washed bedding, scrubbed the bathroom, the bedrooms, the playroom, the kitchen, the entrance, the porch, the laundry room and the stamp room (that's where the stamp collecting goes on).  I did collapse before I got to the rec room.  Next week, maybe.
   Anyway.  It has been 4 days, and the house is still reasonably neat.  I've even kept up with the laundry (mostly).  I think that messiness is contagious.  In Flylady, she encourages us to clean a room at a time.  I can't seem to keep motivated that way.  If I'm in a tidy space, I'm less likely to make a mess in it.  It seems to work with the kids too.  So, my theory is that next Monday, I'll do the whole house cleaning, but have to work less to achieve the same results.  So if you want to visit, feel free to drop by on Monday evening.  :) We'll see.

June 22, 2011

Rain, rain, go away!

Wet.
Well, last night after I finally wound down around midnight, and climbed into bed, I noticed the hissings and gurglings of the water softener in the utility room below.  Nearly an hour later, there was a break in softener noise and that's when I heard it.  Plop...plop...plop... yup, the laundry room ceiling was dripping, and the pail we keep there just in case, was full.  Hastily I emptied the bucket, and returned to bed.  Only to hear the softener start up for its second cycle.  Yeah!  Anyway.  This morning, my early rising husband, found the other leak.  It had soaked a couple of jackets.  So I spent at little time clearing the shelves on which we now keep buckets.  It rained steadily all day.  The sump pump is working wonderfully.  We should give it a bonus.  The driveway is a small pond, and the neighbour's front lawn is a large pond.  I didn't look to see what their actual pond looks like.  I am however, very thankful that we don't live near any major (or even minor) bodies of water that can overflow their banks and wreak havoc.  We only need to deal with a few puddles (inside and out).  As I write this, the sky is lighter than it's been all day.  A break in the clouds to the west is giving a wonderful golden glow and the barn and yard looks clean and fresh (at least from this distance), though it is still raining.

June 20, 2011

How does my garden grow?

Aren't the colours just gorgeous!  I think that red/orange is my favourite.

Columbine going crazy.  Wonderful!

I love tulips!  There's also a bleeding heart in the background.
Just to be clear -and most people who know me know this - I do not do our vegetable garden.  I did plant (mostly) the flower beds around the house.  It is also (mostly) my job to remove weeds and dead branches etc from said flower beds.  Since we moved to this house 5 years ago, I have discovered a great love of tulips.  (Won't someone please invite me to a wedding in Ottawa some spring?) I don't have much trouble getting out in the garden while the tulips are blooming, but as soon as the heat and mosquitoes come along and the tulips die off, I find it much more comfortable in the house.  These particular pictures are from the east side of the house facing the road, taken on June 1st.

June 18, 2011

My girl is seven!

Well, I totally forgot to take picture of the cake before it was dismantled.  It was, of course, chocolate.  With chocolate filling and chocolate icing.  Is there any other kind of birthday cake worth making.  I wanted to make a multi layer cake without making it so big it would feed 200.  So, it was 3 tiers.  The top was a cupcake.  I used the pyrex storage bowls, that Mom and Dad gave me, to bake the middle and bottom tiers.  Icing scribblers from the grocery store to decorate and it was done.  I also used the leftover cake and icing to make cakepops.  It was a hot day, so we simply ate them frozen.  Yummy!  Here's pictures of the bottom tier with a few cakepops stuck into it.  They weren't there long, because they were too heavy and would have wrecked the cake.  When Gideon saw how I'd decorated the cake, he started crying and said he didn't like that icing, so he only ate the cakepops without decoration.


April 28, 2011

Trip

We are in Vancouver!
I can't imagine living downtown - the people, cars, stores, buses, trains - yikes.  It is very interesting to visit though.  I don't think I would ever drive if I lived in a large city.
  Driving through the mountains was beautiful.  I am very glad Paul drove most of the way here so I could just look at scenery.

April 8, 2011

Finally done.

Yes, it is a short bus.  I wanted to get it done faster.